Soapmaking FAQ

What are your most popular Soap Fragrances?

French Vanilla, Sex on the Beach, Lavender English, Muskoka Boathouse, Lilac, Love Spell, Satsuma, Baby Powder, Raspberry and Coconut Lime.

What is Cold Process Soap?

This is a hand made soap that is made through the saponification process. This is when there is a chemical reaction with an alkali (sodium hydroxide lye) and the fats and oils used to make soap. This results in creating glycerin.

Always add LYE to water

Put your lye into the water, NOT the other way around to prevent dangerous splashes or severe volcanic reactions.  When mixing with oils, add the lye water to the oils.  Lye is always the ingredient that does the pouring.

If my soap is made from lye will it hurt my skin?

When making your soap you have to be very careful when you are at the stage of adding the lye. Do not let the lye or the mixture after adding the lye touch your skin. That being said, after 24 hours of curing the soap it is safe to touch but not for use because the curing process is not complete. It takes 4-6 weeks for the soap to be completely cured and ready for use. This is because at that point the lye and oils have completely saponified and are now a new chemical compound. 

What is "trace" and how do I know if I have reached it?

Trace is when all of your soap making ingredients (oils and lye) are fully mixed and are ready for additives such as colorant, fragrance and botanicals. This happens when your mixture is blended and is starting to take on the same consistency as pudding. To test trace you can drip some of the mixture across the top of the mixture and will see that it leaves a trail of drips.  

Why is trace so important?

Pouring too soon before trace does not allow the saponification process to begin and will cause your mixture to separate. Pouring too late may cause your mixture to harden making it difficult to add your additives and evenly mix them in. It will also make it harder to pour your mixture into the mold and create lumps and air bubbles.

Why and how do I test the pH levels in my soap?

We test the pH levels in our soap to know that our soap is safe and ready to use and does not contain any more lye. The pH levels show the strength of an acid. Lye has a pH level of 14 so you want your soap to have a normal pH level of 7 to 10. Values less then 7 indicate acids.

To test your soap for its pH level you can use pH test strips. The strip can detect the pH of a drop of water placed on fresh soap. We also sell Phenolphthalein. To use phenolphthalein, cut a bar of soap and place a drop of the phenolphthalein on the side that you cut. Wait a few moments and if the drop stays clear or light pink then your soap is safe to use. If it turns to a darker magenta pink then there is still too much lye present in your soap and it should not be used. Please note that these tests should be done after the 4-6 week curing time. 

Are Sodium Hydroxide and Potassium Hydroxide the same thing?

They are both lye but are not the same. Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH) and is used to make solid bar soap. Potassium Hydroxide (KOH) is used to make liquid soap. If you use potassium hydroxide in a bar soap recipe then the soap will not solidify.

Why has my soap turned brown?

Your soap may have turned brown because your fragrance oil contains vanilla. Vanilla naturally turns soap brown. It can happen after a couple of days of making your batch, or weeks and even months. If you want soap that smells like vanilla and will not have the risk of turning brown you can use our Vanilla non-darkening fragrance oil.

What is the difference between Fragrance Oils and Essential Oils?

Fragrance oils are made of synthetic and natural ingredients. These synthetic ingredients are manufactured through chemical processes and are man made. Essential oils are natural and are derived from plants and fruits. They are extracted through steam distillation or cold pressed.

Can all fragrances be use in soap making?

Most fragrances are safe to use in soap making. That being said, some fragrances have high percentages of alcohol and can result in your soap seizing during the mixing process. Some fragrances may make your Melt and Pour Soaps cloud. As stated above, Vanilla fragrances can make your soap turn brown. Other fragrances that you would not use in your soaps are fragrances and essential oils that are not 'Body Safe'. We have not tested all of our fragrances for Cold Process and Melt and Pour. 

I want to know the specific ingredients in your Fragrance Oils.

We cannot offer this information because it is proprietary by our supplier. We do not have a legal need to know this information. Most companies do not give out this information because they do not want other companies to duplicate them. We do offer the MSDS sheets for all of our products and fragrances and they are available upon request. 

What kinds of colorant can change when making soap and what botanicals can be used for natural colorant?

Blues can change colour in Cold Process soaps, especially blue oxide. There is a chemical reaction with the blue oxide and it should not be used when making bath bombs. Violet oxide can also turn pink. All botanicals can be used in your soaps as a natural colorant. However, some botanicals such as Annatto and Alkanet may have to be mix with an oil first, and then added to the soap at trace.

I want to add botanicals to my Cold Process (CP) soap as a natural exfoliant. What do you suggest?

Exfoliants are materials that remove dead skin cells when rubbed on the skin. We sell most of these botanicals, but you can also use things that you already have around your house such as oatmeal and tea. Luffa, seeds and flower petals are great exfoliants that can add colour and texture to your bars. We also carry Walnut Husk, Rice Bran course and fine. All of these botanicals vary in harshness and are used depending on your preference.

Why would you recommend using Sodium Lactate in CP soap?

Sodium lactate does not have to be used but is used to harden Cold Process soap as well as minimizing the shrinking of your bars during the curing process.

How should I be labeling my soap?

The Customer Product Safety Commission requires you to have the product name with the word Soap. It also requires you to have the net weight of the product and the business name and address. You also have to add your ingredients list. To do this you should list them in order of predominance. For fragrances you can just state fragrance. For the botanicals state the INCI name that we have provided on our website.


I am making Melt & Pour soap and my layers are not staying together.

This is a common problem when making layered soap. What is happening is that your first layer was too cold to adhere to the second layer. The first layer should still be warm when you pour your second layer. Timing and temperature is the key to working with layered soap. Allow each layer to form a thin skin before pouring the next layer. You want each layer to be firm so that you do not have bleeding but not too cold. You can also spray each layer with alcohol to help adherence.

When do I add fragrance to my Melt & Pour soap?

Fragrance should be added after you have removed the soap from the heat source (microwave) and it has cooled slightly. If you add the fragrance to the base when it is too hot you are risking burning the fragrance off. If you add it to the base when it is too cold your base my solidify during the mixing process.

Why is my soap sweating?

One reason for your soap to be sweating is that you left it in the refrigerator or the freezer for too long. Putting your soap in the freezer is a good way to help speed up the cooling process and helps your soap release from the mold. To lessen the risk of sweating only put the soap in the freezer for 15 min. This should give it enough time to cool.

Other reasons for sweating is that your soap is absorbing the moisture in the air. Store your soap in a cool dry place. You may also want to package your soap so that it is not exposed to air.

Why is my soap oily on the outside?

Usually this happens because you added too much fragrance to your base. You should only be adding a 2% fragrance load when making Melt & Pour soap.

How do I get rid of the bubbles that I get after I pour my Melt & Pour soap?

After you pour your soap into the mold, spray some rubbing alcohol on the top.

The scent in my soap has faded.

This may be caused by burning off the fragrance when you added it to the soap base when it was still too hot. To avoid this, make sure that your soap temperature is no more then 50 degrees Celsius. We suggest using a thermometer when making large batches.

Why is my soap cloudy when I used a clear soap base?

The fragrance that you added to your soap may be the culprit. Some fragrances and essential oils have a natural colour and vary from light yellow, darker orange, green and even brown. You may want to test small batches when making clear soap to test the colour dilution. It is hard for us to indicate whether a fragrance will colour your soap because they vary from batch to batch.

Can I add fresh flowers and herbs to my soap?

If you add fresh plants to your soap it will get moldy. Make sure that your botanicals are well dried with no moisture. Let them dry in a window sill with lots of sunlight.

Browse By Category